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Strategy and the Fat Smoker: Doing What's Obvious but Not Easy

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2008

    A reviewer

    Are you seeing SPOTS? Imagine investing months and months of high-paid executive time in crafting a competitive strategy, that ultimately gets packaged into a huge binder, that finds its way to some bookshelf, never to really be acted upon. Not difficult to imagine is it? Not difficult because that is exactly what occurs in far too many organizations today. I've come to label this affliction as seeing SPOTS . . . Strategic Plans On The Shelf! David Maister labels it the dilemma of the fat smoker. In Strategy And The Fat Smoker: Doing What's Obvious But Not Easy, best selling business author David Maister draws out attention to the fact that when considering strategy we often know what we should be doing, why we should be doing it, and often how to do it. Like the fat smoker, the personal and professional challenge is actually doing what we know to be good for us. David reminds us that 'you can't get the benefits of a better marriage by cutting out half your affairs, cure the problems of alcoholism by cutting out half the drinks or reduce the risks of lung cancer by cutting out half the cigarettes. So it is with business strategy. You can't achieve a competitive differentiation through things you do 'reasonably well, most of the time.'' Strategy And The Fat Smoker is comprised of 19 Chapters divided into 4 Sections with provocative titles like: Strategy Means Saying No It's Not About How Good You Are, It's About How Much You Want it Tyrants, Energizers and Cynics Why 'Most' Training Is Useless and Accountability: Effective Managers Go First. There are numerous checklists, thought provoking list of questions, and insightful suggestions and to do's throughout this 255-page text. Here is one of my favorites: How well does your firm measure up to these behaviors and states of mind? * New challenges are eagerly, continuously sought out. * The firm and its people never rely on momentum for their success, but are always seeking to build new capabilities. * Compared to key competitors, the people in the firm are distinguished by a superior, burning passion to get somewhere new. * The firm emphasizes and requires adaptability, flexibility, and responsiveness as key virtues. * The firm's strategies are created through continued and repeated experimentation. * The firm is markedly superior in creating 'not just hiring for' energy, excitement, enthusiasm, drive, determination, passion, and ambition. * Service offerings, locations, and operating units are repeatedly assessed against these three key criteria: Do the people in the firm find this exciting? Are we making money? Are we doing something special that others are not doing? * There is a restless refusal to accept 'It's OK.' People never settle, never give up, never coast. * The firm sustains energy and investment actions both when things are going badly and when things are going relatively well. * The firm does not judge its performance by the levels of its accomplishments, but by the 'relative incline': whether or not it is improving relative to competitors on the characteristics it has chosen to compete on. * Management is held accountable for its ability to create and sustain drive, enthusiasm, passion, ambition, commitment, and excitement in the individual members and groups that make up the organization. Managers who cannot do this are replaced. In the final analysis David Maister brings a sharp eye and keen insight to one of the greatest challenges facing any organizational leader - how to make something happen!!!

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